NY has $38 million available to protect farmland

Posted 31 May 2018 at 2:46 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Blossoms at an Albion fruit orchard are pictured on May 9.

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced nearly $38 million is now available through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program to help farmers across New York protect valuable and at-risk farmland. Since Governor Cuomo took office, the state has reinvigorated the program and committed historic investments, including doubling the funding in this latest round from last year – marking the highest level of ever offered through the program.

“By investing in the sustainability and growth of New York’s farmland, we are protecting an important economic driver for communities across the state while providing opportunities for our agriculture industry to grow,” Governor Cuomo said. “This unprecedented $38 million commitment to land preservation will ensure New York’s vast farmland is used for agricultural purposes and remains protected for generations.””

Municipalities, counties, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and land trusts are eligible to apply for individual grants of up to $2 million to help offset the costs of conservation easement projects that protect viable agricultural land from being converted to non-agricultural use. The Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program is funded through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund, which was included in the State Budget at $300 million for the third consecutive year. The application deadline is August 31, 2018 and the Request for Proposals is available by clicking here.

Since the governor took office in 2011, the state has invested more than $62 million in 82 farmland protection projects statewide. This funding opportunity continues the state’s commitment to provide financial and technical assistance for farmland protection on a predictable two-year cycle. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ previous streamlining measures have resulted in significant reductions in the overall time needed to complete projects.

This year, to explore additional tools in preserving land for agricultural production, the state has included preemptive purchase rights as an eligible cost that may be partially covered through the grant program. This is the first time state financial assistance may be used toward this eligible project cost.

The Department has established certain criteria to guide the use of this unique easement provision in awarded projects. Preemptive purchase rights encourage agricultural land to remain in active production and to be sold to other farmers at its agricultural value. Certain requirements must be met in order for eligible applicants to use grant funding for these purchase rights, which will also provide a potential avenue for new and beginning farmers in acquiring land.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Department has made great strides in improving regional collaboration on its farmland preservation programs and ensuring we move the Farmland Protection program forward.  We are pleased to make available nearly double the funding this year than we have in previous years and are committed to preserving our land base, which not only retains the state’s farmland for our future New York farmers but also helps protects our environment.”

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